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Irish in Tennessee USA

Key Locations


Dublin, Ireland

Cork, Ireland

Nashville, TN

Florence, AL

Tuscaloosa, AL

Mobile AL

Cumberland

  Furnace AL



Major Thomas Kirkman b 1757, probably in Dublin where his sister Sarah was born. He may be descended from a family of professional soldiers as a Sgt Thomas Kirkman was appointed Quartermaster to the 67th Foot  in 1775, replacing James Kirkman who took that post in 1758. Major Thomas was appointed Quartermaster to the same regiment in 1783, and in the 1790’s became commander of the Royalist stronghold in Duncannon Fort, Wexford.

Major Thomas’s son, Thomas Kirkman was b 1779 Bally Bay, Co Monaghan. He married Eleanora Jackson, in Monaghan, in 1799. They emigrated with their parents to the United States with their 4 children  about 1805, settling first in Philadelphia. By 1807 they were in Nashville. Thomas established a hardware business with his brother-in-law, James Jackson. Major Thomas died in Nashville in 1813, and was buried at Mt Olivet.

Thomas Kirkman Jnr died 1826 in Nashville. Immediately after his death the will became contested because of an unsigned codicil to the will. The executors had to provide a bond of .        
$300,000, and the inventory of just his liquid assets exceeded $100,000.

Thomas’s eldest son named following family tradition Thomas, b 1800 in Rockfiield, Cork. Thomas and brother James Kirkman b 1802 Coothill, Cork were early merchants of Florence, Lauderdale Co, Alabama. James Kirkman went to New Orleans, and engaged in the cotton business for a long series of years. These gentlemen became wealthy. They had an extensive trade in Florence, and another store in South Florence. Thomas Kirkman engaged extensively in planting in Mississippi. He was also at one time largely interested in steamboats. He was the owner of a number of the best race horses in the country, including the renowned Peytona.

Another of Thomas’ sons,  Hugh Kirkman b 1810 Nashville married Eleanora Chambers Van Leer. Their love story is told here. He managed the iron works for her father. Hugh’s daughter, Mary Florence Kirkman, inherited it in 1863.  By marrying Union Captain James Drouillard in 1864, she was able to put the furnace back into profitable operation immediately after the war.

Thomas b 1800’s son Hugh b 1838 Florence, Alabama, moved the family to Tuscaloosa around 1866 before moving back to Alabama around 1880. He was a tax collector. The descendants became more mobile, with his grandson Clark being born 1904 in New York. His cousin, Caswell Macon Kirkman, moved to Mobile, Alabama where he died in 1952. His ancestors still today live in Collierville, Tennessee.
Intriguingly, this family has a Coat of Arms which matches that of another famous Kirkman family, Lord Major elect Alderman John Kirkman of Cheapside, London, England. They are shown side by side here.

Major Thomas Kirkman’s Coat of Arms is on the right. The motto reads “DIFFICITIA NON DETERRENT” which translates as “Not deterred by difficulties”.

Comparing them, both have 2 diamond shapes above vertical & horizontal hatchings, followed by a third diamond shape.
Normally, sharing a common Coat of Arms would mean that the families are related, but I have been unable to establish a paper connection between these 2 branches.  We already have a Kirkman from Alderman John Kirkman’s line, and now we have a Kirkman from this line in the DNA Project. The Y-DNA test results show that in fact this line emanates from Yorkshire, descended from another soldier, James Kirkman b 1711 who is buried in Wakefield.

You can learn more about these Kirkmans at this very comprehensive Farrell web-site here